Prime minister Rishi Sunak said at this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions that “there are 20,000 more police officers”.

FactCheck takes a look.

Have 20,000 more police officers been recruited?

Ahead of the 2019 election, the Conservatives pledged to recruit 20,000 more police officers in England and Wales by March 2023.

The latest published statistics show that as of December 2022, the figure was 16,753 – not 20,000 as Mr Sunak claims.

Has Sunak broken data rules?

It’s possible that Mr Sunak was referring to more recent, unpublished data that backs up his claim that the government has met this target. But even if that data does exist and shows what he’s claiming, it looks like the prime minister has fallen foul of the UK stats regulator’s Code of Practice.

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) reminded the government in February 2021: “Whenever figures are quoted publicly by ministers or officials, the figures should be released at the same time”.

The government in which Mr Sunak served as chancellor agreed. It wrote in May 2021 that it was “committed to transparency and will endeavour to publish all statistics and underlying data when referenced publicly, in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.”

The Home Office Police Workforce Statistics team told FactCheck that the final official data won’t be published until 26 April because the stats “must undergo quality assurance” before being released.

And it’s not the first time the prime minister has made this claim. During PMQs on 22 March – before the recruitment programme ended – Mr Sunak said that crime has fallen under the Conservatives “because we have recruited 20,000 more police officers”.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We await the final data; however, we remain confident we will have delivered on the government’s manifesto commitment to recruit 20,000 additional officers by the end of March 2023.”

“Thousands of extra police officers are already out on the beat making our streets safer, and when this programme is complete, there will be more police officers in England and Wales than ever before.”

Downing Street has been approached for comment.

FactCheck verdict

Rishi Sunak said in parliament that “there are 20,000 more police officers”.

But the next statistics showing if the 20,000 police officer recruitment target was met by the 31 March deadline won’t be published until next week.

So, it’s not currently possible to tell if this figure is correct. And even if it is, it looks like the prime minister has breached the official data rules by citing statistics in public that have not been officially published.